Dream Bigger Tip #12: Identify The Beliefs That Hold You Back

In my coaching practice I meet women when they’re at a crossroads in their lives. When the life they’ve been living...

Dream Bigger Tip #12: Identify The Beliefs That Hold You Back

In my coaching practice I meet women when they’re at a crossroads in their lives. When the life they’ve been living for a long time – and the goals they’ve pursuit – don’t work for them any more. When I ask these women what their big dreams are I’m often met with silence. Many of them simply don’t know. Or if they do, their big dreams often come with a big list of why they’ll never achieve them.

From personal experience, and listening to what these women tell me over and over again, I’ve learned that one of the main blocks to overcome in order to dream bigger are the beliefs we hold true for ourselves.

We live in a world full of rules and regulations about who we’re supposed to be and what we’re supposed to want. This is especially true as women. We’re expected to be a lot of things. Most of them in service of others. These unwritten rules or social expectations are often disguised as internalized beliefs. It’s simply the way culture works.

Being a good daughter for instance might mean you believe you need to listen to your parents when they give you advice about your career choices. Perhaps they want you secure your future by staying in a job you dislike, or earn a degree in a field that doesn’t interest you. The belief that you need to listen to them might make it hard for you to follow your own path, and choose your own career.

The good news is, once we identify the beliefs that hold us back, we can let go of them. We do this by replacing them with new beliefs based on who we are, what we really want, and what we actually belief about the world.

How to identify the beliefs that hold you back?

  • Reflect

The best way I’ve found to identify internalized beliefs is to reflect on them. You can do this by journaling about them. Writing down what you believe in can be difficult. What’s internalized isn’t always visible on the surface or conscious. Here are a few prompts that can help you get started.

Pick a dream you’d like to achieve but have trouble getting started or following through with. Start writing down all the associations that come to you about this dream. Don’t edit or limit yourself.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I think I deserve this dream?
  • What will happen if I achieve this dream?
  • Why do I think I won’t make it?
  • What don’t I want about this dream?
  • Why am I having trouble achieving this dream?

Go over your list and make a note of all the negative things you wrote down. What do they have in common? What do they say about how you see yourself in the world? What beliefs do they bring forward?

If your dream is to become a freelance writer you might think that pursuing this dream is risky, or that you can’t because you don’t have the right degree. Both of those things – risk and degree – are beliefs you have about who can, and can’t start a business.

The question is: is this really true? Do you really need a degree to become a freelancer writer and is it really that risky to work for yourself? Spoiler alert: it’s not! You only believe it is because you’ve been conditioned to.

  • Listen to your inner voice

We all have a mean inner voice. It’s the one that tells us we can’t do something, or that we shouldn’t. She’s always there with an opinion about everything. Guess what? That opinion are your internalized beliefs.

By listening to your inner voice, especially when she’s being critical, you’ll be able to identify the beliefs that hold you back.

My inner critic has a tendency to tell me that I’m not good enough, that I don’t have what it takes to succeed at my dreams. For a long time this held me back from doing what I really wanted to do, and forced me to stay small. Once I realised she wasn’t telling the truth I was able to let go and make decisions without listening to her or my internalized beliefs.

  • Question your inherited beliefs

Inherited beliefs are the beliefs that are passed down to us in childhood. A lot of them come from our parents, the school we went to, the social circles we grew up in. They’re closely related to our inherited dreams, something I resist and fight against in the work I do with my clients.

We have inherited beliefs about everything. Most of them came from the people that had the most influence on us, that we cared the most for or that we looked up to the most.

Questioning your inherited beliefs is an exercise in reflection like the first tip above. The difference is the focus of the question. Instead of asking yourself what you believe about something, you focus on someone else: your mom or dad, your siblings, a school teacher maybe. Anyone that had an influence on you growing up.

Ask yourself:

  • What did my mom teach me about money?
  • What did my dad teach me about work ethics?
  • What did my fifth grade teacher think about creativity?
  • How were my parents raised?
  • What did my parents believe in?

These questions will help you to identify the beliefs that you’ve inherited. Once you have I invite you to ask yourself if they’re true and relevant to you. If not, don’t be afraid to change them to alternatives that work better for you. Your big dreams will thank you.

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